It’s that time of the year again when resolutions are being made. The previous two weeks, rested in the knowledge of our well-deserved break, our brains plotted the Big Escape from our bad habits and mediocre activities, just like an exhausted prisoner planning his escape from Alcatraz. With a fresh mind, we have promised ourselves the world. Chances are that you will have planned one or more of the following triumphant resolutions for 2021:
- I will stop smoking
- I will lose weight
- I will start taking massive action in order to take my business to where it needs to be
- I will see my friends and family more often
- I will set myself more challenging goals
- I will create more art
- I will work smarter, not harder
- I will spend more time with the children
- etc, etc
Looking back at your majestic goals for 2021, you lie back contented with a big grin on your face and a warm glow in your belly, thereby forgetting that you had promised yourself the same (or something similar) last year, and the year before, etc.
Resolutions don’t work. There, I said it. You might see some short term results due to the placebo effect of your enthusiasm, a bit like an underperforming football team that suddenly gets two good results after the coach is fired, only to return to mediocrity a few weeks later. The results won’t last.
The problem lies with the way resolutions are formulated. As you can see in all of the statements above, they are all stated in a future tense. It’s something that will happen in the future. But this gives your unconscious mind the wrong signal: if it’s something that will happen in the future, it means that it’s not happening yet. And if it’s not yet happening, it is no more than a possibility, so why even try? (our unconscious is notoriously lazy)
Why wait for an arbitrary date in the future to start taking action? What is the message you unconsciously give to yourself when you state that you will start doing it later? How is your unconscious mind supposed to take something seriously when the command it is given states ‘this is a goal I will start pursuing as of the 1st January of next year’?
If you really want to achieve your goals in 2021, then start planning now. The best time for planning is yesterday, the second best time today. Set yourself a compelling goal that is aligned to your vision and values. Then break down the goal into smaller steps, and decide what is the first step you are going to take TODAY to get your closer to your destination. Small steps might seem insignificant in the big scheme of things, but you will be surprised to see how much of a difference they will have made by the end of the year, if these steps are taken consistently every single day.